With 160,000 new customer additions in the first quarter, Sky’s revenues were up 5 percent to £3.3 billion ($4.3 billion).
The European platform saw revenue gains across all of its operations, with the U.K. and Ireland up 4 percent to £2.2 billion ($2.9 billion), Italy up 2 percent to £605 million ($795 million) and Germany and Austria up 8 percent to £495 million ($651 million). The subscriber gains, meanwhile, came from Germany and Austria (90,000) and the U.K. (70,000), while in Italy the base remained flat versus Q4. EBITDA for the group rose 11 percent to £582 million ($765 million).
“We’ve had a strong start to our new financial year with good revenue growth and excellent profit growth as investments we’ve made come through,” said Jeremy Darroch, group chief executive. “Against the backdrop of pressure on consumer spending and lower spend on U.K. television advertising, we were particularly pleased with our own EBITDA growth of 15 percent in our established business. We continue to see good demand for our products and services with 51 percent more new customers joining Sky than a year ago; we surpassed the milestone of 60 million subscription products; and pay-as-you-go sports and entertainment buys grew by 12 percent to 9.6 million.”
Darroch also touted the on-screen investments that drove a 10-percent boost in viewing on Sky channels. The original drama Riviera is Sky’s highest-rated commission ever and Game of Thrones the most-watched series on Sky. Darroch also pointed to the success of The X Factor in Italy and MasterChef in Germany and Austria. The platform is upping its investment in Sky originals by 25 percent this year.
“Customers have lots to look forward to as we continue to enhance our products and services in all territories,” Darroch said. “We’ll be showing four major dramas every single quarter, including the eagerly awaited premiere of our first German production, Babylon Berlin, on October 13. We will launch our loyalty program in Germany and Austria in the second half of the financial year, building on the success of our well-established scheme in Italy and the good start to Sky VIP in the U.K. As part of a big year of innovation, we have two important launches coming up this quarter—in the U.K., we are launching Sky Soundbox, our all-in-one sound system, to transform the TV sound experience, and we are rolling out our next generation TV service, Sky Q, to Italy. We will follow this with the launch of Sky Q in Germany and Austria in the first half of 2018, taking a major step forward in the customer experience.
“Alongside developing our existing products and services, we continue to invest for the future. In the U.K., customers are responding well to our entry into the mobile market while this quarter we have successfully entered two new territories with the launch of direct-to-consumer streaming services in Spain and Switzerland, further demonstrating our credentials as the leading provider of streaming services in Europe. Looking ahead, despite the uncertainty in the broader consumer environment, we remain on track with our plans and enter the busy Q2 trading period focused on delivering our clear strategy for growth.”